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Clintonville, OH
The story of a photographer and his faithful wife. Nick has a gift for seeing the beautiful in the ordinary, Beth has a knack for data entry. Welcome to our world.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Photo Summary of Nick's Brazil Trip

I want to begin by thanking all who supported my trip in both prayer and in the giving of gifts and monies. Everything about this trip was so down to the wire that it was impossible to not see God’s hand in it. We bought our plane tickets about 2 weeks before we were to leave and the budget we were given by the missionaries covered our costs down to the dollar. We got or passport and visas in the mail about 6 days before we were to leave. My sister, Emily, was also able to get seats next to ours though she bought her tickets 2 days later (she will be staying down there for the next 7 months so you can keep her in your prayers). Even our luggage at 52 pounds which they graciously let slide as the limit was 50 pounds. The zipper on my suitcase also bore the tension of the limit pushing. It was separating from the fabric but thankfully survived the trip.

For those who didn’t know the purpose of our trip to Brazil: Riche Bouthillier is a missionary with the Xingu Mission and has been stationed in Brazil for about 12 years. For a long time many of the missionaries with Xingu have been in Altamira, Para, which is more of a developed city. In the last couple years Richie and a few others have started moving up river to Porto de Moz. The main mission besides church planting and developing has been the work done with Thirst Relief International. They manufacture water filters that purify the river water and give them to families to halt the stomach issues that go along with impure water. Richie wanted a documentary to be made of the work that has been done by him and the others in Porto de Moz in hopes to raise awareness and support of what they are doing down there.

As I mentioned earlier, our trip was down to the wire in every way. When we finally arrived in Altamira (after passing through Rio De Janeiro and Belem) 36 hours after we left Port Columbus, we showered, handed out the gifts that many of you kindly donated, called my wife to let her know we arrived safely, hugged my sister goodbye and then left for the docks. We had an 11 hour boat ride ahead of us before reaching our final destination of Porto de Moz. There was no room for error or rest for that matter. Here is an image of a rainbow that reminded me of God’s provision in all of the chaos, which we saw while waiting out an unexpected 2 hour delay (down from the originally estimated 4- hour + delay) on the last leg of our trip in Belem

Rainbow in Belem

On the boat ride up to Porto de Moz I became acquainted with Marveson, an 11 year old Brazilian who was the son of one of the other passengers.

Marveson

He really liked my camera which had the five pound zoom lens attached. I showed him how to take the picture and view the resulting image and I carefully put the camera strap around his neck. He was thrilled. He started snapping away and quickly grew bolder. I think he had been watching my technique as he shot 2-3 shots for every subject instead of just one. He would then show the best image to the subject for their approval. He wandered the boat shooting for about 45 minutes. Every now and then I would peek out to make sure he wasn’t dangling over the edge of the boat with the camera that weighed about a third of his total body weight. After a bit I asked for the camera back to get a couple shots of my own. I snapped a few and then looked through the images he had taken as well. You can see some of the images below:

Marveon's Photo #2Marveon's Photo #1
Marveon's Photo #3

He took some AMAZING shots. His composition was fantastic even if his exposures were, for the most part, dialed in for him. I soon realized however, that there weren’t as many shots on the memory card than I thought there should be. I also noticed that the first shots on the card were ones that he had taken and not the images I had taken the day before. Somehow in his quest to explore all that my camera had to offer, young Marveson had formatted my memory card and deleted every single image. Fortunately this happened on the morning of the second day of the trip and all I had really lost were some images of the gift handout from the night before and a couple of the boat trip pics from earlier that morning. As a result I will stress a big THANK YOU again to those for you who donated food and books and DVDs and coffee for the missionaries. Though I don’t have the images to prove it, they were ecstatic. It was a second Christmas for them.

The rest of the boat trip went well. Marveson was not given a second chance to take more pictures. Here are a couple shots from the ride:

Barely Hanging On
Watching

Upon reaching the docks at Porto de Moz we were informed that we had been carrying a freight of gravel that was to be used by the water filtration camp. We were then met by a crew of guys that were hand loading the bags into a dump truck that was heading up to the site. By the way, the bags had been hand filled the day before and then hand loaded onto the boat. It took two full trips of the dump truck to hall it all to the site.

Unloading Gravel
Unloading Gravel
Unloading Gravel

Once we got to the site, Richie gave us a tour of the water facility. He explained how the filters work. He also showed us the local Vineyard church. After that we hung out with his family at the house for the rest of the day. We went to the Shuhaskeria (sp?) for dinner which is where meat is brought out to you on skewers and you point to the cut you want. The moon was bigger and brighter than I think I have ever seen:

Richie Explains the Water Filter ConstructionFull Moon

The next day we were joined by fifteen youth from the Porto de Moz church. Cley and Clea are brother and sister.

Cley

There were also two other sisters among the fifteen. This was a ministry for them as they were to go into the villages when we docked in order to invite everyone to the nightly church service we were holding. We then had a 2-3 hour boat ride up to Caraá(?) where we stopped and Tim performed a procedure on a girl there. She had an abscess under her arm that he removed. Though he was able to numb the tissue on the abscess, he wasn’t able to completely numb the area. She was very brave.


Dr. Timothy KubackiNervous Patient
Doctor at Work

Meanwhile the teens were fishing and riding the resident’s horse and playing their Tetris video game (I saw every one of those youth with the game over the course of the week).

Cley and the HorseCley Tamed the HorseMore TetrisMore Tetris

Kids Today

We pushed off for another short boat rie up to Cordoza. Jeremy was lying low all day as he was fighting flu-like symptoms. He felt nauseous and being in the sun wasn’t going to help him. When we docked he stayed on the boat and out of the sun and I shot some video for him of the youth as they played soccer.

Soccer

I went inside a couple of the houses in Cordoza and watched as Richie and Clyde and Tim conversed with the residents. Though they try and make it around to these church plants and villages once a month it has been a couple of months since their last visit. Their goal is to have small groups set up in addition to the weekly church services in order to breed maturity in the Brazilians’ faith. As it is now, when the missionaries come to town it is such a celebration that the whole town comes out for the music and excitement and the visitors and it appears it is a thriving and happy church. The reality is most of them go back to their normal lives for the rest of the month.

After hanging out and playing dominos and taking pictures of all the staring children, several of us went out in the canoe to fish for a bit.

ChildFather and Son
Children of Caraa

Though Clyde wanted to maintain the image of a fierce and successful fisherman for my camera I had to inform him I am only there to capture the truth and nothing more. He did not catch any fish on that particular boat ride. Clyde is a seasoned fisherman however and could entertain you for hours with the stories he has accumulated over his years in Brazil.

Ready for the Rainy Season
Clyde the Fisherman

Gothic Brazil

We also stopped to visit a family who had recently received one of the water filters to see how they were doing. Clyde also wanted to get a picture of them. He has made it a habit recently to take shots of every family that receives a filter along with their new filter. Also, check out their bathroom below.

Filter Recipients

Toilet

We returned to the village in time to eat dinner and a killer sunset.

Sunset on the Xingu
Caraa at Sunset

After that was church. Two of the youth, Ivanildo and Heif, gave their testimonies
They spoke with such conviction and authority and passion! Cley, who is the primary youth leader, brought the teaching. Richie also spoke a word he felt was laid on his heart. Several people responded after the teaching and received prayer from the youth.

Ivanildo Gives His TestimonyChurch Service

The next morning Clyde and a couple other guys loaded 2, 250 pound water filters into the canoe along with the bags of sand and rocks needed to make the filters work. Jeremy, who was feeling much better, Clyde, me and two other guys hopped in the canoe and headed out to deliver them. Our boat sat so low that we were at the same height of the water. I had my camera in one hand and I was bailing water out of the canoe with the other hand!

Loading the Filter
Loading the Filter

Unloading the Filter

Bailing Water

We delivered the filters to grateful recipients.

Unloading the Filter
Unloading the Filter

Clyde Explains how the Filter Works
Sand for the Filter

Sand for the Filter
The Thirst Relief Filter
Signing the Contract to Recieve the Filter

They purchase the filters for $20 Reals which converts to about $12 dollars. The thought behind this is that if the filters are free the recipients will think they are worthless and not contact them if there is any issue with the filter’s performance. And this is exactly what we did after we delivered the first two filters. We also visited a lady whose filter had become infested with red ants. The ants had worked out a system where they were pulling the sand out of the water for their own use! There were thousands of these ants. If you stood still for too long you were getting bit. The 2 year old boy who lived there wasn’t even fazed by the ants.

Another Filter RecipientRed Ant Infestation
Child

After we returned to the village, Tim did a couple medical consults. The typical medical condition he encounters in small villages is gastritis, dehydration, worms, STD’s and arthritis. He can easily treat some while some of the STD’s are untreatable with the medicine he has. Some of the villagers are able to make it to town to a hospital but most aren’t that lucky. As you can see in the below picture, this man was lucky enough to have made it to a hospital and had x-rays from his visit but his pain persists and he has yet to pay off his bill from the trip.

Patient
X-Ray, Rural Style
Prayer and Medicine

At the end of every consultation, Tim offers to pray for the patient. His belief is that without God’s help the medicine can only do so much. Many of the health problems are hard to diagnose and the odd combination of symptoms often point to a spiritual element. This is something I have come across through the Soaking Prayer ministry. For example, if someone is harboring unforgiveness for a long time they will often times have back and neck pains that don’t go away until they forgive the person and repent of their unforgiveness. After this forgiveness the pain almost always goes away.

After the consults we had lunch as provided by the village. They had slaughtered a pig just for us and stewed the meat. Though it was tasty I first had to cut the top 2 layers of skin and hair and fat off the meat. It was a pretty sobering experience. I started to consider vegetarianism.

As we got ready to leave the village of Cordoza, one of the girls who lives there decided to give her life to the Lord. The youth had been playing with the kids from the village for the last day and after the service the night before and the time spent with the youth, the girl decided to commit her life to Jesus! They all laid hands on her and prayed on the boat before crying and saying their goodbyes.

SalvationA New Sister

After an hour boat ride we arrived at Bom Jesus. The sunset was glorious and we enjoyed it from our hammocks on the boat. On the ride up we saw everything from herds of water buffalo to wild horses. When we arrived, Richie and Clyde headed down the ¼ mile dock into town to see what the plans were for an evening church service. There had been some really weird spiritual things happening there in the past and Richie thought it would be more appropriate to host a small group session the next morning rather than a big service that night where anyone could show up.

Wild HorsesSunset at Bom Jesus

Instead of church that night we had a dance party on the dock thanks to the energetic youth and the music playing on our battery powered radio. Flashlights beamed around like a disco and everyone laughed as Jeremy and a couple of the youth had a Krump-off. He also taught them the timeless game of “Hot Hands”. Later, the youth started a fire and roasted some of the day’s fresh fish. The moon rose bright and the night air was cool and we enjoyed the salty fish on the dock. I stayed up rather late talking to Jeremy and Richie about faith and evil and how merciful Jesus is with us. The teens on board stayed busy playing video games on my phone. Their favorite was Asteroids, which they pronounced “Ashterdoids”.

Jeremy KrumpingKrump OffMoonlit

Jeremy, Richie and the Curse at the Haunted Docks

The next morning we all went into town to hold a church service. Many from the village came out for it. Clyde spoke and several people received prayer at the end of the service.

Church ServiceClyde TeachesPrayerPrayerPrayer

Following service Tim headed to the town’s hospital to do a few consults. His plan was to do a brief session as he was low on meds and it was getting to be close to lunch. I headed for a walk with the youth to explore the town. Here is some of what I saw in this town:

OutlawsBonitaLocal WildlifeTraining Wheels

After about an hour I ended up at the hospital to check in on Tim. There was a mob worthy of a Brangelina sighting surrounding the door to the hospital. After pushing through the mob I entered the cramped, humid room. Tim was had been seeing people for an hour already and the consultations were taking about 3-5 minutes each. Soon after I got there they patients started coming in two at a time. All the health issues were about the same. Gastritis, worms, dehydration, muscle ache, STD’s, arthritis. I sat with Tim for two more hours. Towards the end some of the clients were on their second visit. This time they had new symptoms. As the city was a day’s travel away they were going to get as many free meds as they could. Every time we asked Richie how many more people were waiting outside the hospital to be seen he said “ten.” There must have been 4 or 5 sets of “ten” people that Tim saw.

Waiting to See the DoctorConsultConsultConsultConsultConsultConsultConsultConsultConsultConsultAlmost Blind

Below is a picture I took of Tim a couple days before. Though it wasn't taken during this particular session of consults I thought it was a dramatic image of a third world doctor catching a rare and much appreciated moment of rest.

Doctor's Down Time

After we saw the last of the people waiting at the hospital we had to pop over and see an old lady with a snake bite who was unable to come to the hospital. Tim, who in my untrained opinion speaks great Portuguese, had a bit of a hard time communicating all he wanted to the patients he was seeing. He would occasionally pull out his pocket digital translator to look up the word “elevate” or “gull bladder”. He checked the lady’s snake bite as well as all her relatives’ wounds and aches and concerns, before we headed back to the boat for a late lunch. As we pushed off to return to Caraá, Tim and I wolfed down our meals. I was also fighting a headache due to the heat in that room and a lack of food and liquids (and probably caffeine too).

When we arrived back at Caraá I rested for a bit as Jeremy did a bit of fishing to his delight. He was sick the other day when the other guys went fishing and Jeremy, an avid fisher, was bound to catch some Piranha. And that he did. But not before Richie upstaged Jeremy with his 6 year old daughter’s pink Barbie fishing rod. That got a laugh out of us all. They went on to catch about 15 fish, half of which were snapping Piranhas. The funny thing about that is that the youth were all swimming in the Piranha infested waters without any problems but the moment you dropped a piece of food in the water it disappeared in a flash of white and teeth. Later, both Richie and Jeremy were upstaged by one of the guys who lives in Caraá who, while spear fishing, had caught a fish that was bigger than all the fish they had caught combined.

Richie: 1 Jeremy: 0Richie's Favorite Barbie Rod1>20Dusk Fishing

That night we ate dinner in the dark as the mosquitoes were especially nasty. After dinner we soaked ourselves in Deet and held a church service in one of their houses. They fired up the generator just for the occasion. In many of the villages the only power they have is provided by generators. There are no phone lines, no roads or cars (only boats got you to these villages) and definitely no power. One of the village residents really missed her soap operas, however, and opted to get a T.V., satellite and a generator.

The church service went great. Again, Cley taught and the youth prayed over several people at the end of the service. It is so amazing to see these kids weeping as they pray over others. These youth truly have an overdeveloped perspective for their age and for any age. They didn’t fight amongst each other once though confined to a tight boat all week. It took little to get them excited and they had a tremendous amount of joy and an acute sense of humor. After service was more dancing and "Hot Hands". All in all it was another very full day.


This is what Happens When You Flinch in Hot HandsJeremy and Kids

Later that night we buckled down for a long night swatting mosquitoes. Theses particular mosquitoes had long noses which allowed them to bite us through our clothes and hammocks. Deet didn’t really work either. I put in my ear plugs and pulled my hammock around my face and fortunately because of my long day I fell asleep quickly.

The next day and a few mosquito bites later we headed back into one of the houses as Tim was to perform another surgery. This time it was more cosmetic in nature. One of the girls had a bump on her leg she wanted removed. He was able to more completely numb the area in this case and he removed it with no problem.

SpectatorsSpectatorsRemovalRemovalClosing it UpClean Up

This village in specific boasts the production of a great Buffalo cheese. They walked us through their techniques in producing the cheese and the demo finished with everyone sampling the cheese. I don’t eat cheese straight up but supposedly nothing beats warm buffalo cheese.

Making Cheese

After that a Clyde and a couple guys returned with a canoe full of pigs. The pigs had been released into the wild until full grown in order to fatten up for the slaughter. I have never before heard the sound of 5 pigs screaming in unison. It is an ungodly sound. I also witnessed the slaughter of the first pig (our dinner) by two of the teenagers from our boat. Heif, who could be seen crying as he prayed over someone in ministry time the night before, was one of the guys who helped kill this screaming pig with his bare hands. These Brazilian youth are some dynamic people. To have the stomach to kill an animal with their bare hands AND have the compassion and empathy enough to weep over a stranger as they prayed for them was a range I had yet to see in one person.

The death of the first pig shut the other pigs up quick. Next, they castrated the two male pigs. Without this their meat is supposedly inedible. I had to go back to the boat and cover my ears for that ordeal.

After recovering from the trauma of witnessing these events and now seriously considering vegetarianism, we returned to our boat to eat ribs and pork with beans and rice for lunch. It was quite good and, according to Jeremy, some of the best ribs he has ever had.

This Made the Other Pigs Really QuietOur Dinner

We had a three hour boat ride back to Porto de Moz which allowed us to rest a bit. We also got a group shot as this was probably one of our last times together. I talked to Richie for a bit and the kids and the kids took turns playing the acoustic guitar and Tetris as the sun set and the air cooled. We even got to see the elusive pink Amazon dolphins swimming not too far from our boat.

The GangCap'n RichieKinda Like LeoMy Last Brazilian Sunset

When we arrived in town we had a taxi waiting for us and we crammed all fifteen of the youth. They cheered and shouted to pedestrians the entire drive to church. When we arrived at the church we were met by a jam-packed church decorated with streamers and palm leaves. The kids ran in, grabbed their guitars, prayed and began worship. It was like watching the Beatles take stage at the height of their popularity. Everyone in the room was immediately jumping around and laughing and yelling and singing. Cley’s brother and father were able to join him and Clea for the night. Cley and Clea gave their testimonies after worship.

Church ServiceCley Leads WorshipChurch ServiceClyde PrayingRichie PrayingHeif Praying

After service ended we went over to Richie’s house which is literally two doors down from the church. He has cable and so we watched a bit of the election news and we called our wives for the first time in 5 days. It was great living the city life again. Christie, Richie’s wife, made us frozen coffees and we had Brazilian pizza for dinner. This meant that instead of pizza sauce and pepperoni there was salami topped with mayonnaise, ketchup, olives and peas. Needless to say I was a little disappointed as I had been envisioning Pizza Hut when they told us what we were having for dinner.

After dinner we all crashed. Richie and Christie slept in their kid’s room and gave us their air-conditioned bedroom! We also were able to take a fresh water shower (no more river water) and we had a real bathroom with a comfortable toilet. The luxuries of life.

The next day we grabbed some footage of the church band doing practice. Jeremy and I went swimming with some of the youth kids. It was our last day in the hot climate and we had yet to swim. After we got back from swimming we had lunch with Richie’s family and Clyde’s family. Jeremy interviewed all the missionaries after lunch. Rochelle, who is one of the missionaries that has been in Porto de Moz for a couple years, had some really amazing things to say about all the Lord is doing there.

Interview

By the time the interviews were finished we had about 10 minutes before our line boat left for Altamira. Richie headed to the boat early to hang our hammocks in a prime location. We said goodbye to all the youth and we headed out.

Jeremy Says Goodbye

We boarded the boat, which has a posted capacity of 60 but was filled with well over 100 passengers and their luggage and hammocks. I ran into young Marveson (of the camera memory incident) and let him take a few more shots, this time with his very own memory card. We were fed a good dinner on the boat with the boat’s engine cover as our table.

I have never before experienced anything like that boat ride. I literally had to climb over people to get around. After I made it back upstairs, Jeremy and Richie and I stayed up trading stories for a while. During our 11 hour boat ride to Altamira we stopped twice along other boats in order to take on a passenger from one boat and to sell diesel fuel to another boat that was stranded. When I was finally ready for bed I found myself in the position where I had a mans leg touching my right ear and Jeremy’s head positioned just over my left. Also, my legs were almost up Tim’s nose and I was staring at a light bulb that was turned on for all but an hour of the night. I slept for about 2 hours.

View From My BedMy BedNew Passenger

We arrived at Altamira at 5 a.m., drove for an hour back to Tim’s house where we showered and ate a quick breakfast before heading to the airport. We had 27 hours of flights and layovers ahead of us before returning home, red eyed and grateful. One other miracle happened in Belem. As we were about to head through the security to board the plane I realized I didn’t have my boarding pass on me. I was too tired to think clearly and decided to retrace my steps. My first stop was the bathroom I had gone to about an hour before. On my way into the bathroom I glanced in the trashcan and something caught my eye. My boarding pass was sitting ON TOP of the trash without a piece of dirt on it. Anyone could’ve grabbed it or it could’ve been buried under other trash! In this moment God absolutely confirmed to me His provision in our entire trip.

If you have made it this far in the blog, the Lord bless you. Thank you all for your interest and prayerful support in this trip. There was much I am sure I left out as well. You can see more pictures from this trip on my Flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/xingumission/pool/52764273@N00/

If any of you have a chance to visit our brothers and sisters in Brazil, jump at it. The missionaries can also use your continual support in prayer and financially. Visit them at www.xingu.org

In Christ,

Nick Fancher

4 comments:

Josh and Brin said...

Nick...wow. seriously, i live here and see this stuff all the time but you certainly have this way of making it vivid. And you are a bit of a writer too. Next time you come perhaps we could see you longer than 30 minutes
Beth...you've got a great blog going. Your stories/pictures make me wanna be a more doting wife. Thanks for the nick loaner. ~brin
ps: emily is doing awesome, i'm sure she'll tell you details. right now i have a hair mask in, she's rubbing off....
Thanks, both of you, for your support.

jenny mae. said...

bless you brother for all that you did! these photos are such a testimony!

Robin Oatts said...

amazing as always. the one of the little boy on the bench with his arms out gave me goosebumps.

Emily Marie said...

I did read your blog, way back when Brin left a comment. The internet, as you know, was way too slow there. So I'm taking full advantage of the speedy connection in Salvador.
I really enjoyed seeing all your pictures, and your stories really brought your experience to life!
I'm glad you had a wonderful trip, and came back with many pictures and memories to keep with you always.
I'm proud of you, and I'm excited to see what all the sweet things God has prepared for you in the future!